Yesterday my parents called to tell me my parrot, Pepper, had died. No one is sure exactly how it happened, but it appears a visiting relative’s dog was involved.
Pepper was a rescue bird, a black headed caique (Pionites melanocephalus) who had a rough life before becoming part of our family about 8 years ago. He was stubborn, messy, loud… and I fell so in love with him. Pepper bonded most closely with me, and for years I worked hard to train him and gain his trust. He also enjoyed my mother’s company, respected but avoided my father, and constantly tried to attack my little brother. He tried to attack anyone who visited, even relatives who came over often (like my grandparents). He was especially protective of me. Anytime the front door opened, he had to march over to investigate. He often perched on the family room windowsill surveying the driveway, ready to warn us of any threat (hawk, crow, airplane, etc).
Pepper was a spoiled little bird. He had free reign of the house most of the time, seldom flew but loved climbing curtains. He had his own cabinet shelf in the kitchen where we kept toys, old shoes, paper towel tubes, and newspaper for him to shred. He shared breakfast with my mother every morning, begging his way onto the kitchen table, stealing pieces of toast and fruit.
He loved to play with plastic cups, paper towel tubes, and water bottles. He was a little ball of colorful energy. But he also loved snuggle time in the evenings – Pepper would curl up in my lap and I would pet him, scratching his neck and under his wings. He would coo and purr, closing his eyes in bliss.
I will miss our conversations of clicks and whistles and squeals, our playtime on the kitchen floor, sharing meals, bathtime with a hose outside, snuggling in the evenings, napping together on the couch, the way he tried to pick food out from between my teeth, his courtship dances, the way he would open the christmas presents we gave him, his habit of sleeping on his back, the way he would wrestle with my hands and play bite… Pepper brought so much joy to my life.
He was stubborn, messy, destructive, and caused tension in the family at times… but he was part of the family. I am grateful I was able to share so much of my life and my love with him. Rest in peace, Pepper.